Friday, October 24, 2008

Stone Age House Unearthed in Greece

Outline of the Stone Age rectangular farmhouse.

Six-thousand-year-old crockery and two wood-fired ovens have been unearthed in the buried ruins of a prehistoric farmhouse in northern Greece. A Greek Culture Ministry statement released today said the discovery "provides invaluable, unique information" on late Neolithic domestic architecture and household organization.

"This is a very rare case where the remains have stayed undisturbed by farming or other external intervention for about 6,000 years," the statement said. "The household goods are in excellent condition."

The rectangular building covers some 624 square feet. It was discovered when workmen were laying water pipes earlier this year at the village of Sosandra, about 360 miles north of Athens. Archaeologists excavated the site between March and July, finding a large number of clay vessels for cooking and eating, stone tools, mills for grinding cereals and two ovens.

The house was separated into three rooms and had walls made of branches and reeds covered with clay, supported by strong wooden posts. The building was destroyed by fire, which baked the clay, preserving impressions of the wooden building elements, as well as the post holes.

Archaeologists believe the inhabitants managed to escape the fire. "They left behind the large stone tools which would have been difficult to move away," the ministry statement said.

Click here for the Associated Press article.

Holes for posts that supported the house's walls and roof are still visible in the ruins because a house fire baked the clay around the holes.

Here is some of the 6000-year-old ceramic pottery archaeologists recovered from the ruins.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rare Gold Jewelry Unearthed In Bulgarian Tomb

The 4,000-year-old gold jewelry went on display for the first time this week in Sophia, Bulgaria.

A treasure in gold jewelry discovered in Bulgaria is now being put on display after archaeologists kept it secret to protect it from theft. The trove includes 355 gold beads and two gold jewelry spindles, all dating from about 3000 BC.

Borislav Borislavov, who discovered the treasure, says that the find is of major significance for archeology. 

"These are objects dating from a period that is the least known, not only in Bulgarian, but in European history,” he said. “The discovery proves that in south Thrace a civilization comparable to the Aegean one has existed."

The gold items were discovered in a tomb near the town of Harmanli in southeastern Bulgaria and until now have been kept secret by the archeological team, the National History Museum, and the Culture Ministry due to fear of treasure hunters. The items were found during an excavation of a Bronze Age mound there.

The treasure was put on display this week at the National History Museum in Sofia. Meanwhile, the archeological team continues to work in the location of the tomb where more objects ~ such as a bronze knife and grindstone ~ also have been found.

(Thanks to my good friend, Ludmil Marcov, formerly of Bulgaria and now of Texas, for alerting me to this article!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Turkish Site Is Oldest Temple Yet Discovered

Megaliths at the Göbekli Tepe site probably once supported roofs. 

It’s sometimes called the "Turkish Stonehenge,” but archaeologists now believe the Neolithic temple at Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey dates to as early as 10,000 BC, or about 7,000 years earlier than its more famous British counterpart.

According to Archaeology magazine, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest manmade place of worship yet discovered. Its most striking features are dozens of megalithic pillars placed in circles. The megaliths, which may have once supported roofs, are about nine feet tall.

Göbekli Tepe's circles range from 30 to 100 feet in diameter and are surrounded by rectangular stone walls about six feet high. Many of the pillars are carved with elaborate animal figure reliefs, including bulls, foxes, cranes, lions, ducks, scorpions, ants, spiders, and snakes. Other freestanding sculptures depicting the animals have also been found within the circles. During the most recent excavation, archaeologists uncovered a statue of a human, as well as sculptures of a vulture's head and a boar.

The oldest structures belong to what archaeologists call the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period, which ended around 9000 B.C. Strangely enough, the later remains, which date to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, or about 8000 B.C., are less elaborate. The earliest levels contain most of the T-shaped pillars and animal sculptures.

Archaeologist Klaus Schmidt and his colleagues estimate that at least 500 people were required to hew the 10- to 50-ton stone pillars from local quarries, move them from as far as a quarter-mile away, and erect them, a process that would have required a level of organization previously not believed of Stone Age people.

Before the discovery of Göbekli Tepe, archaeologists believed societies in the early Neolithic were organized into small bands of hunter-gatherers and that the first complex religious practices were developed by groups that had already mastered agriculture. They thought that the earliest monumental architecture was possible only after agriculture provided Neolithic people with food surpluses, freeing them from a constant focus on day-to-day survival.

A site of unbelievable artistry and intricate detail, Göbekli Tepe has turned this theory on its head, according to Archaeology magazine.

Click here for the Archaeology magazine article.

Most of the carvings show dangerous animals, such as this lion.

Carvings on this pillar depict a crocodile-like creature and vultures flying above a scorpion.

This pillar shows two boars accompanied by ostrich-like figures.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rare Medieval Manuscripts Going Online

A random page I downloaded this morning from a circa 980 AD collection of short hymns and songs. The images are easily enlarged for detailed viewing.

A vast collection of medieval books ~ many written and illustrated by hand earlier than 1000 AD ~ is going online. With the help of a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, the books are being scanned to preserve them for posterity.

The effort to digitize contents of the wonderfully baroque abbey library, the Stiftsbibliothek in St. Gallen, Switzerland, is a reaction to 2002’s devastating floods in Dresden.

According to today’s New York Times, the Stiftsbibliothek collection includes material as varied as curses against book thieves, early love ballads, hearty drinking songs and a hand-drawn ground plan for a medieval monastery, drafted around A.D. 820, the only such document of its kind.

This morning, after reading the Times article, I visited the Stiftsbibliothek collection website, where there are now 144 manuscripts available for viewing. I selected one manuscript at random and then one page of it. Everything was easy and informative, after I found the little link in the upper right corner of the screen where I could select English for viewing the site.

My random page turned out to be from a 980 AD antiphonary ~ a collection of short hymns or songs ~ assembled by a monk named Hartker and now considered “an invaluable monument of music history.”

Click here for the New York Times article.
Click here to go directly to the Stiftsbibliothek manuscript website.

The magnificent Stiftsbibliothek library, founded in the 9th century in eastern Switzerland, houses one of the most valuable collections of medieval manuscripts in the world.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Caligula's Assassination Site Discovered

"Caligula Depositing the Ashes of His Mother and Brother in the Tomb of His Ancestors," by Eustache Le Sueur, 1647.

Archaeologists in Rome have found the underground passage where members of the Praetorian Guard assassinated the cruel Emperor Caligula.

The underground corridor discovered beneath the imperial palaces on Palatine Hill matches exactly the description given by the Roman historian Suetonius, who wrote that the Emperor was stabbed to death there after watching an entertainment, as the result of a conspiracy hatched in the Roman Senate.

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus ~ who lived from 12 to 41 AD and was known by his nickname Caligula (Little Boots) ~ was the third emperor of the Roman Empire after Augustus and Tiberius, and like them a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

According to the London Times:

Unlike his father Germanicus, a widely admired and upright Roman general, Caligula became a byword for cruelty, excess, insanity and sexual perversion. His nickname derived from the fact that as a small boy he dressed up in a miniature uniform while accompanying his father on military campaigns.

Some scholars maintain that Caligula murdered Tiberius to ensure the succession, or at least ordered his murder. On becoming emperor Caligula was at first hailed as the son of Germanicus, but his behaviour became increasingly psychopathic after he fell ill in AD37 and nearly died. He had all possible opponents, real and imagined — including members of his own family — banished or killed, and seized their properties.

He also proclaimed himself a living god. According to Suetonius, Caligula had incestuous sex with with his sisters Agrippina, Drusilla and Julia Livilla. He also supposedly tried to confer the title of consul on his favourite horse, Incitatus, who had a stable of marble and a collar of precious stones, and had flakes of gold mixed into his oats. Some historians have suggested, however, that such stories were embellished or even invented by Caligula’s many enemies.

Maria Antonietta Tomei, a Rome archeologist, said she was “absolutely convinced” that the passage was the one in which Caligula met his end. Although it bore builders’ stamps from the time of Claudius, it already existed at the time of Caligula, and had only been restructured by his uncle and successor.

“It is clear that it was Claudius and not Nero, as commonly thought, who gave shape to the imperial palace complex on the Palatine Hill,” she said.

At right is bust of Caligula from The Louvre.

Click here for the London Times article.

High-Tech Search for Genghis Khan Tomb

Image of Genghis Khan from the 14th Century at the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

Scientists are using high technology in an attempt to locate the tomb of Genghis Khan, which his followers went to great lengths 800 years ago to conceal. Somewhere in the steppes of northeastern Mongolia, they buried their leader, trampled the ground with horses and then diverted a river to flow over the tomb.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego's Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) are hoping to use advanced visualization and analytical technologies to conduct a non-invasive archaeological analysis of the area where Khan is believed to be buried.

Khan's grave is presumably in a region bordered by Mongolia's Onon River and the Khan khentii mountains near his birthplace in Khentii Aimag. Some experts believe his sons and other family members were later buried beside him.

Forbidden Site Until Recently

Directly following Khan's death in 1227, the area around his tomb was deemed forbidden by the emperor's guards, In the 20th century, Russian occupation officials prohibited Mongolians from even talking about Genghis Khan because they felt it might lead to nationalist uprising. Only since the 1990s have researchers been allowed in the area, and several other research teams have tried unsuccessfully to locate the tomb.

"If you have a large burial, that's going to have an impact on the landscape,” says Dr. Albert Yu-Min Lin, an affiliated researcher for CISA3. “To find Khan's tomb, we'll be using remote sensing techniques and satellite imagery to take digital pictures of the ground in the region, which we'll be able to display on a 287-million pixel display wall.”

"Once we've narrowed down this region to a certain area, we'll use techniques such as ground penetrating radar, electromagnetic induction and magnetometry to produce non-destructive, non-invasive surveys,” Lin said. “We'll then work with people in UCSD's electrical engineering department to develop visual algorithms that will allow us to create a high-resolution, 3-D representation of the site."

Despite the technologies and expertise available, Lin says he is aware of the challenges the project poses. "One consistent fact is that there is no fact," he said. "It's a story of secrets upon secrets and myths upon myths.”

Click here for the Science Daily article.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Archaeologist Finds Halloween in Her Own Yard

Witches Sabbath in Roman Ruins, Jacob van Swanenburgh, 1608.

Archaeologist Jacqui Wood of Cornwall, England, was digging around in her yard a few years ago and accidentally unearthed the site of witchcraft rituals dating back at least to the 1600s ~ but also with possible indications of more recent practice.

"Over the last 30 years I've been quick to dismiss ritual as an explanation for unusual archaeological finds," Wood told Archaeology magazine. "It usually means that the archaeologists can't think of anything better. So now it seems especially ironic that I end up with a site absolutely full of ritual."

Wood (shown here with a fragment of a cauldron recovered from the site) moved to her home 15 years ago because it was an ideal location for her work in experimental archaeology, replicating ancient techniques. In the late 1990s, she wanted to recreate an ancient kind of furnace. "I dug down into the ground to construct a shelter close to the furnace and I discovered a clay floor," she says. Based on flint fragments embedded in the clay, a Danish specialist dated the site to the late Mesolithic, around 8,500 years ago.

Archaeology states:

But as Wood and her team excavated the platform over the next few seasons, unusual features began to emerge. They came across strange rectangular holes, about 15 by 10 inches, in the clay.

"At first we thought they must be postholes or something," says Wood. But the first of the holes, about 6 inches deep, was lined with white feathers. The pits cut through the clay platform, so Wood knew that they had to date to a later time, but only an expensive radiocarbon test could pin it down. "We guessed it might have been a bird-plucking pit, a common farming practice at the turn of the 19th century," says Wood.

But that couldn't be the case--Wood found that the feathers were still attached to the skin, which had been laid in the pit with the feathers facing inward. A bird expert from the local zoo confirmed they came from a swan. On top of the swan skin, Wood found a pile of pebbles and a number of claws from different birds. She later learned that the stones came from a coastal region 15 miles away, though no one knows why they were brought from so far. Someone had gone to considerable trouble to gather the contents of this pit. That season, Wood and her colleagues found eight pits, two of which contained odd collections of bird parts, and six of which had been emptied, but with a few telltale feathers and stones left behind.

Wood eventually became convinced that only witchcraft could explain her unusual finds, but no one had ever heard of anything like this. Radiocarbon tests revealed the swan skins dated to around a.d. 1640, the time of civil war in England and a very dangerous period to be practicing witchcraft.

"Any sort of pagan worship was classified as witchcraft at that time, and punishable by death," says Wood. "If caught, they would have been burned at the stake." To make things worse, swans were royal symbols and property of the crown, so killing a swan was doubly risky.

Wood and her colleagues had further spooky discoveries ahead. Not far from the three pits, they uncovered the remains of a spring-fed pool, carefully lined with white quartz, and containing 128 textile scraps, six medieval straight pins, shoe parts, heather branches (associated with luck), fingernail clippings, human hair, and--it doesn't get more witch-like--part of a cauldron.

Click here for the complete Archaeology article.

Archaeologists and students working in the area where pits were discovered with swan skins, pebbles, bird claws and other indications of rituals.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dueling Paleontologists Dispute Dinosaur Prints

One of the footprints causing a paleontological tempest in Europe.

A German paleontologist has ignited arguments about what he claims is new proof of the world’s oldest dinosaur.

Cajus Diedrich says large footprints he found embedded in a former limestone marsh are 243 million years old, while some other paleontologists say he’s off by at least 15 million years. At any rate, the tracks Diedrich discovered in late 2007 near Bernburg, Germany, are from a huge creature. Some of the tracks are about 14 inches long, indicating the dinosaur weighed nearly a ton.

Diedrich (shown at right) believes the tracks were made by the “missing link” of the dinosaur world, a giant reptile known as the Prosauropod, an ancestor of the long-necked giants such as the Brontosaurus, and an evolutionary bridge with the smaller, lithe lizards that also roamed the region.

But Hartmut Haubold, a paleontologist from Halle, calls Diedrich’s claims ridiculous. "It's as if someone found a 10-million-year-old stone and claimed it was a hand axe made by humans,” he says. “Dinosaurs didn't come into existance until a good 15 million years later than Diedrich claims."

Martin Sander, a paleontologist at Germany's Bonn University, also has doubts. "The first dinosaurs were smaller creatures," he explains, "about as big as monitor lizards. That a much larger dinosaur would have lived so much earlier is extremely improbable."

Diedrich says his critics are upset that they didn't make the discovery and that he's being attacked unfairly. "I don't turn to colleagues for advice anymore, because many of them don't follow the scientific code of honor," he says.

The German magazine Der Spiegel termed the dispute “an all-out brawl” between several of Europe’s leading paleontologists.

Click here for the Der Spiegel article.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Temples Built on Soils Linked to Deities

This ancient Greek temple to the sea god Poseidon was built near a harbor with arid soil.

Ancient writers such as Homer and Plato wrote of “divine soil” capable of affecting a person’s soul, and now modern research explains what they could have meant. It seems certain temples were built on soil that held some meaning for the god or goddess the temple honored.

"Temple sites were chosen to honor the personality and aspirations of gods and goddesses, which, in turn, were shaped by the economic basis for their cults," author Gregory Retallack of the University of Oregon told Discovery News.

He sampled the soil from 84 Greek temple sites dating from 480 to 338 BC and created a profile for the soils, naming their characteristics and how they might have been used at the time.

The soil appeared to be directly connected to the mythology surrounding the god or goddess honored by the particular temple. Buildings dedicated to Athena and Zeus, for example, were erected on soils of citadels. "These are the god and goddess of warrior societies, and their temples are mostly on or near easily defensible hills, with evidence of long prior occupation," Retallack says.

Temples dedicated to Artemis and Apollo ~ associated with hunting ~ were located on likely former hunting grounds. Hera and Hermes buildings sat atop clay-rich soil that would have been suitable for cattle grazing, in keeping with "Hermes the ram-bearer" and "ox-eyed queen Hera."

His findings are published in the latest issue of Antiquity.

Click here for the complete Discovery News article.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cave Paintings Took Thousands of Years

Using uranium-series technology, scientists have been able for the first time to accurately date paintings in Spain's famous Altamira caves.

Scientist are now saying some of the world’s prehistoric cave paintings may have been a 20,000-year work in process. Across hundreds of generations, the prehistoric paintings in Europe’s caves were refreshed, added to and sometimes painted over.

The realization came about as the result of new technology enabling researchers for the first time to accurately date paintings that span millennia. The technique is called uranium-series technology, which reduces the dependency on carbon in the dating process, where carbon has proven to be notoriously unreliable.

"The art gives us a really intimate window into the minds of the individuals who produced them, but what we don't know is exactly which individuals they were as we don't know exactly when the art was created,” says Dr. Alistair Pike of Bristol University, who is leading the research. “If we can date the art then we can relate that to the artifacts we find in the ground and start to link the symbolic thoughts of these individuals to where, when and how they were living."

Scientists have used the new techniques to date a series of famous Palaeolithic paintings in northern Spain known as the "Sistine Chapel of the Palaeolithic,” thought to date from around 14,000 years ago. But Pike’s team discovered some of the paintings were between 25,000 and 35,000 years old. The youngest paintings in the cave were 11,000 years old.

"We have found that most of these caves were not painting in one go, but the painting spanned up to 20,000 years,” he said. “This goes against what the archaeologists who excavated in the caves and found archaeology for just one period. It is probably the case that people did not live in the caves they painted. It seems the caves they lived in were elsewhere and there was something special about the painted caves."

Click here for the complete London Telegraph article.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Two Tribes Found in Sahara Stone Age Cemetery

The 200 graves unearthed earlier this year in the largest Stone Age cemetery yet discovered in the Sahara Desert have revealed bodies of two successive populations. These people occupied a southern Sahara region called Gobero in what is now the country of Niger. At the time of their Stone Age occupation, the desert was a green and fertile savannah. 

First were the Kiffians, tall hunters of wild game who also fished with harpoons carved from animal bone. The later group were the Ténérians, a smaller people who lived there, hunting, fishing and herding cattle.

Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago scientist who discovered the ancient graveyard about eight years ago while searching for dinosaur bones, says the Gobero settlements started about 10,000 years ago and lasted about 5,000 years.

In describing the 200 graves, he said some burials were accompanied by pottery and ivory ornaments. A girl was buried wearing a bracelet carved from a hippo tusk. A man was seated on the carapace of a turtle. A scene of particular poignancy was the triple burial of a woman lying on her side, facing two young children, whose arms reached out to the woman in an embrace.

Here are some photos of the archaeological work being done by Dr. Sereno and his team at the Gobero site, taken by Mike Hettwer of National Geographic.

Paul Sereno and Elena Garcea excavate adjacent burials at Gobero, the largest graveyard discovered to date in the Sahara.

Two distinct cultures lived at Gobero. The Kiffians, like the male at left, were tall. This skull was dated at 9,500 years ago. A dry interlude chased the Kiffians away. When the rains returned, the Tenerians, who were shorter and leaner, populated the area. The Tenerian male, right, died when he was about 18. The skull was dated at 5,800 years old.

In this grave, a Tenerian woman and two children, about 5 and 8 years old, were posed in an embrace. Pollen under the skeletons indicate that they were laid on top of flowers. The bones show no sign of the cause of death.

A close-up of the burial of the woman and two children. The 5-year-old is at left.

This Tenerian girl, about 11 years old, died 4,800 years ago. She was buried wearing a bracelet carved from a hippopotamus tusk on her upper arm. The Tenerians buried their dead on top of dunes near a lake.

Paul Sereno works to stabilize the skull of a woman of a nomadic culture knowns as the Tenerians, who lived in the area in Niger from 6,500 to 4,500 years ago, when rains fell and lakes dotted the Sahara.

Click here for a New York Times article about the Gobero excavation.
Click here for a New York Times article about the Sahara’s shift from savannah to desert.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


When a fig tree lost all of her leaves during the winter, a nearby olive tree made fun of her nakedness. “In both winter and summer,” the olive tree said, “I am beautifully adorned with leaves, ever green with new life, whereas your beauty lasts only as long as the summer.” While the olive tree was boasting, the snow began to fall. The white flakes clung to the leaves of the olive tree, piling up on her branches until they cracked under the weight and crashed to the ground, ruining the tree. Meanwhile the fig tree stood by, safe and sound.

Moral: People who boast of their wealth or their fortune can meet with unexpected disaster.

Ancient Bowl Links "Christ" with "Magician"

Depiction of Jesus's first Biblical miracle, transforming water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

The recent discovery of an ancient bowl bearing a reference to “Christ” could be the earliest known reference to Jesus Christ. Researchers think the meaning of the words engraved on the bowl ~ Dia Chrstou O Goistais ~ could link the bowl and the Christ reference to supernatural practices.

Researchers say the phrase translates to either “by Christ the magician” or to “the magician by Christ.”

The bowl dates somewhere between the late 2nd Century BC to early 1st Century AD and was found during an underwater excavation of ruins in the harbor of Alexandria, Egypt. A team of scientist led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio discovered it near the submerged island of Antirhodos.

The bowl is very similar to one depicted in two early Egyptian earthenware statuettes that are thought to show a soothsaying ritual.

"It could very well be a reference to Jesus Christ, in that he was once the primary exponent of white magic," Goddio, co-founder of the Oxford Center of Maritime Archaeology, said. He and Egyptologist David Fabre, a member of the European Institute of Submarine Archaeology, think a "magus" such as mentioned in the Matthew gospel could have practiced rituals using the bowl.

"It has been known in Mesopotamia probably since the 3rd millennium BC," Fabre said. "The soothsayer interprets the forms taken by the oil poured into a cup of water in an interpretation guided by manuals." The magus or medium then goes into a trance when studying the oil in the cup.

"They therefore see the divinities, or supernatural beings appear that they call to answer their questions with regard to the future," he said. A magus might have used the engraving on the bowl to legitimize his supernatural powers by invoking the name of Christ, the scientists theorize.

Click here for the complete Discovery News article.

The bowl, found submerged in the bay of Alexandria, with the engraved words translating to either "by Christ the magician" or "the magician by Christ."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Istanbul 6,000 Years Older Than Previously Thought

Ancient ruins at Istanbul.

Archaeologists now say Istanbul is 8,500 years old, far more ancient than the 2,700 years previously believed.

The revised dating was based on analysis of four skeletons as well as wooden and ceramic artifacts discovered two months ago on the site of the city, which the Greeks founded as Byzantium.

Ismail Karamut, director of Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum, said the new findings will force historians to rewrite the history of the important ancient city. While founded as Byzantium, it later was known as Constantinople until it became Istanbul in 1930. Today it is the world’s third largest city.

Click here for the article in Novosti.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Machu Picchu Bones Belonged to Servant Class

Researchers have determined many of the dead buried in caves at Machu Picchu belonged to the class of South Americans known as yanacona, essentially loyal male servants to Incan kings. It seems Machu Picchu was a royal estate, and the kings brought their servants from a wide geographic area to maintain and operate the site.

The new findings ~ which tend to support some earlier conjecture regarding the mysterious Peruvian-mountaintop site's purpose and population ~ derived from analysis of nearly 200 skeletons found in three caves.

About half of the skeletons recently analyzed were from women. Researchers believe they were wives of the male servants and perhaps women who were selected by Incan royalty as weavers, brewers and wives in arranged marriages.

These and several other conclusions derived from chemical analysis of the bones, showing that the yanacona came from areas east or southeast of Machu Picchu and some from along the South American coast, while others had previously lived in locales high in the Andes.

“This would have made for an interesting dynamic in the Machu Picchu population, as its members may have had little in common besides their service to the Inca elite,” says anthropologist Bethany Turner of Georgia State University. Her group analyzed oxygen, strontium and lead isotopes in 74 of the skeletons. Wide variations in the isotopic composition of these substances suggest that individuals at Machu Picchu grew up in a variety of geological contexts with distinct water sources and available foods.

Most researchers believe the royal retainers’ duties included performing agricultural work on royal estates, attending to nobles on expeditions and military campaigns, conducting administrative work and even serving as provincial officials. While the servants were buried at Machu Picchu, the kings were buried in the nearby Incan capital of Cuzco.

Click here for the Science News article.